Do You Celebrate Your Diabetes Anniversary?


Do you remember the date you were diagnosed with diabetes?  Is there a pancreas-shaped mylar balloon that we can blow up and tie to our breakfast chair, in order to mark the day?  (Quick Google search – no balloon found.)  Many in the diabetes community call that diagnosis date their diabetes anniversary, or “diaversary,” for short.  For some people, this moment is clearly marked on their mental calendars, while others don’t note their diagnosis date at all.  It can be a bittersweet acknowledgement, putting the diabetes notches on our belts. 

We talked with the ASweetLife community on Facebook to see if celebrating their diaversary was a thing.  The responses were either a proud yes or a hell no, with little in between. 

“Yes we do! We use it as a day to celebrate her strength.” 

“I’ll probably remember it but not really celebrate.” 

“Yes, it is acknowledged in some small fun way. He deserves some recognition for another year fighting and thriving in life!” 

“Even if I remembered what day it was, I wouldn’t. After 20+ years it just becomes normal life, so there’s nothing special to really celebrate. It’s like celebrating Thursdays to me.”

“I will not celebrate a curse.”

There aren’t any rules about how you mark your diabetes anniversary, if you mark it at all.  There’s no rule book when it comes to living with diabetes, and people develop individualized plans to best manage their own conditions.  There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to any of this.

But for me?  I’m a celebrator.  I like to give a nod to the day, or sometimes a middle finger to it, depending on how I’m feeling, but the day never goes by unnoticed. 

My type 1 diabetes diagnosis was in September of 1986, just as second grade was starting.  My parents confirmed that the exact date was the 11th, and for a long time I didn’t care about commemorating or celebrating the anniversary of my diagnosis.  It wasn’t until I was a few decades into diabetes – around the 20 year mark – that I felt the urge to celebrate.  And it wasn’t about celebrating the diabetes (because I still am not a fan) but more about celebrating the life I’ve built despite, because of, and simultaneously unrelated to diabetes

We don’t have a diaversary party.  We don’t send cards to my pancreas.  (One year, my husband purchased a Fudgy the Whale ice cream cake and wrote “Type 1 Diabetes” on it and we destroyed it with spoons, but that was an exceptionally odd moment.)  And sometimes “celebrating” the day is simply my husband giving my shoulder an extra squeeze in the morning, letting me know that he knows how hard I’m working.  Or my daughter asking me how many years I’ve had diabetes but then adding, “You’re making it look easy, mom!!”  (And then I give her money, because clearly she’s earned it.)  Or me, looking at myself and knowing that I’m defying odds and kicking butt. 

But we do acknowledge the date because it is proof that I’ve cleared another hurdle, reached another milestone, achieved another rotation of 365 days of making diabetes the thing that drives me instead of the thing that runs me over.  Celebrating my diaversary is about repeatedly proving to myself that there is life after diagnosis, and it can be a good one … even if there’s no pancreas-shaped balloon.  Yet.

Leave a Reply

8 Comments on "Do You Celebrate Your Diabetes Anniversary?"

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Augie De Blieck Jr.
We’re not that far apart. I hit 30 years last year, but I don’t remember the exact date. it’d be easy enough to look up on the calendar, but I don’t need to. It was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend when I was officially diagnosed. So I just “celebrate” on that day. After thirty years, I know there’s a couple days variation from year to year, but I’ll keep pushing on. ;-) I tried to convince my wife it’s a family holiday and that we should celebrate it with gifts for me, but I haven’t had much luck with… Read more »

No- I’ve had type 2 for 3 yrs and it’s still a struggle for me.

Bonnie Kessler Kaufman
Bonnie Kessler Kaufman
Yes absolutely! My daughter was 9 when diagnosed and is now 13.. we just celebrated her 4th diaversary! We actually like to do something big to honor her strength and resilience and positive attitude. Year 1 – Adam Levine Concert Year 2 – released a music video about her journey with T1D (see it here ) Year 3 – we went to the Candy Factory for dinner and she brought friends (an oxymoron I know but she thought it was a great idea) Year 4 (last month) -she held a concert for a cure and raised $6000 for the… Read more »
Ian Williams
Having just passed my 50 year mark my diagnosis date is very much in my mind. Over the years I have come to realize that much of my current happiness is the direct result of my developing diabetes. Of course there is no control. Perhaps without diabetes I’d be living on a horse farm in Kenya and be even happier. However I do encourage other diabetics to consider what diabetes has given them. For me it helped me select my college degree, biochemistry because I learned about insulin action. It channeled me into my Ph. D. in insulin secretion. It… Read more »
Kevin Stephani
Thanks so much for this post Kerri, that was such a cathartic piece for me. I REALLY like the celebrate the life I built despite part. After being completely diagnosed at 45 with adult onset Type 1.5 I use the anniversary as a way to look back at the past year as a review. I publish it on Facebook to keep it accountable and hopefully inspire folks that need it. Keep up the great work! Both writing and living with the big D! ps this year I may ask my family to buy an ice cream cake that we could… Read more »
Myra Shoub

This is the first year I have ever celebrated! It was my 40th anniversary. I feel like I should have been one of those seniors using their walkers to accept a Joslin medal. My motto is from the old timex commercial: “Takes a lickin’, keeps on tickin’ “. Maybe, if I make it to 50 years I will call Joslin and score one of those medals.

Mac MacKenzie

I acknowledge every 5 years as another milestone. Been type 1 for 66 years and was diagnosed at 11 yrs old. Still doing great and just got on line with Medtronics 670G pump and which is really a long way since started with sharpening and boiling my needles and syringes and no blood testing.

Tracey Morrison

I have been diabetic for 28years and I would never thout of celebrating it. Why would I it has it ups and downs and it also affects your family and friends. You learn to live with it but you I still wish I didn’t have it. I have been hospitalised many many times and I have nearly died. So why celebrate a horrible disease regards tracey

Copyright © 2009-2017 Diabetes Media Foundation, All Rights Reserved.
ASweetLife™ is a trademark of the Diabetes Media Foundation, All Rights Reserved.